Eight new board members were elected at a Wednesday night meeting to replace 10 who resigned, according to Executive Director Stephanie Demos, the sole remaining staff member.
The new members are Mary Anne Baker, Anne Bendixen, Brian Bolitho, William Bruner, Kay Culpepper, Donnasue Jacobi, Walter Smith and Patricia Targ.
There are four returning board members, including Linda Adreveno, Katie Cooney, Kit Golson and Rob Parish, Demos said.
The roughly 600-member nonprofit arts organization was bitterly split last fall by the previous board's plan to sell the group's 688 Ramona St. property to Palo Alto developer Jim Baer.
The board argued in favor of selling the hollow-brick structure for $3.4 million.
The plan called for seismically retrofitting the building, making it wheelchair accessible and turning the top two floors into condominiums. The arts group would have retained about half of the first floor for gallery and teaching space, but many of its activities would have been relocated out of the downtown area.
Many league members, including incoming board member Donnasue Jacobi, protested the proposal vehemently with a "Vote No" campaign.
The board dropped the plans at its Nov. 29 meeting.
Many board members recognized a fundamental disagreement with the membership about what sort of organization the league should be and decided to resign, former Board Chair Carol Nast said.
Despite past rancor, Demos said she is excited to move forward with alternate plans for expanding and rehabilitating the downtown building.
Jacobi's "Vote No" group is brainstorming ways to fund the modernization and upgrading of the old structure.
The first floor was littered with buckets collecting rainwater during recent storms, Demos said.
A main task for the new board is figuring out how to raise funds for such a massive project, incoming board member Walter Smith said.
The nonprofit owns the right to build into an alleyway behind the building, which could lead to an expansion of up to 5,000 square feet, Demos said.
The group currently rents a garage from a family for a secondary exhibition space on Alma Street, a less than ideal set-up, she said.
Smith said ill will within the group should dissipate.
The new board will have a "closer dialog" with members than the last and re-institute a former policy of sending a periodic letter out to members, he said.
Nast said one big difference is that the old board engaged in "very aggressive outreach" to the Palo Alto community, such as in arranging a cooperative exhibit with Gamble Garden, but the new board believes in a members-first approach to exhibits.
League members had difficulty relating to the earlier outreach approach, and in the future the gallery will feature mainly art by members, Smith agreed.
He noted that the new board had yet to meet and set official policies.
The league's board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the league's building at Ramona Street and Forest Avenue.
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